Fast food chain McDonald’s has revealed how it has improved the speed and efficiency of its planning processes in its German business by making it more automated.

The company said it made sure that there was a high adoption rate among its users by involving them in the implementation and designing a solution that involved few changes to existing planning processes.

“Everyone is doing the same thing as last year in terms of process, but nothing has changed too much. So it has been very well received by users,” Joachim Kellner, CFO and senior VP of finance and supply chain at McDonald’s Germany and West Division, told delegates at the Oracle Openworld 2011 conference in San Francisco.

The company began implementing Oracle Hyperion Planning solution with the help of consultancy Deloitte last November, and went live with it in June 2011.

It used a ‘coaching’ and ‘hands-on’ approach to the implementation of Hyperion, which meant that all the users had to come into contact with the product very early on, and are now able to maintain the product themselves.

McDonald’s planning and budgeting systems covers a range of areas including general and administrative planning, franchise planning and rental planning (analysing total rental expenses of each store depending on sales). Under the Hyperion project, all the separate modules have now been integrated into a single, integrated planning application.

“We had a lot of documentation because the systems were not connected in an integrated way. There were also missing links, or steps being missed in the planning process, which led to less efficiency. A lot of processes were manual,” said Kellner.

He added: “We spent too much time entering data and processing data, and the timeline was so tight that time for analysis was not enough.”

Now, the new Hyperion tool allows McDonald’s to do top-down, as well as bottom-up, planning.

For example, the company can carry out top-down planning by analysing sales of stores with different attributes (such as a drive-in or a McCafe), to inform the development of future stores.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s said that the bottom-up planning capability has benefits such as enabling portfolio management and deeper insight into the performance of individual stores.

“Bottom up planning makes managers more aware, and allows for performance related bonus,” Kellner added.